Reptiles/New House Gecko

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Question
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I caught this little guy in my kitchen and I just fell in love with him. I'm planning on keeping him and I do travel at least four times a year (college breaks) and I was wondering if a travel carrier and a normal tank would be good enough for that? Have the tank when at home and the travel carrier when on break? When I had newts when I was little, we did this when we traveled.

He's around three inches long total I think, and his color looks good. He's also quite active and doesn't seem ill.

Answer
Here's your guy:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_house_gecko

Now, if you have never kept reptiles before, you should be aware that their needs are quite a bit different from those of newts.  One of the most important differences is that reptiles require controlled temperatures, and tropical reptiles require controlled humidity.  As a result, the basic setup for any reptile tends to be considerably more expensive than most people realize.

Since your gecko is nocturnal, you will not have to worry about UVB lighting, but you will need to provide a heated enclosure.  One area of the cage should be warmer than the other, so that the animal can move around to regulate its body temperature correctly.  The hot spot (basking area) should be 90F, and the other end of the cage should be about 75F.  Heat sources can be turned off at night.

Lack of proper temperatures will result in an inability to digest food properly, and immune system depression (and eventual death).  These are hardy geckos, so adverse effects may take longer to become apparent, but the less stress you can expose the animal to, the more likely it is to thrive.

This is a tropical species, so humidity should range from 65% to 90%.  (Keeping it around 80% is fine, but humidity levels that rise and fall over time are more natural).  Like most arboreal geckos, these geckos will not drink water from a bowl, so misting their cage a few times a day will provide drinking water as well.  (They drink from the droplets).

Use a digital thermometer with a remote probe.  The stick-on types are worthless.  You can pick up inexpensive indoor/outdoor thermometers with a remote probe at places like WalMart (no need to pay pet store prices for specialty equipment).  I also recommend a humidity gauge (again, not the stick-on dials).

Ideally, a forest floor mix or coco fiber mix will work for bedding (and will help keep humidity high, kept moist), and a variety of live or fake plants should be added for cover.  Reptiles that do not feel secure will be stressed, and fall ill, so providing cover is crucial to their health.  Pothos is a good, hardy live plant to use.  Live plants will help keep humidity up as well.

The Exo-Terra or ZooMed 12 X 18 enclosures that have front-opening doors would be what I would recommend for this species.  If you try to use a tank with a screen top, you will lose your gecko, trust me, lol.  There are heating and lighting options made for Exo-Terra and ZooMed enclosures.  Remember that undertank heat mats should always be used with a thermostat or a rheostat, and never be simply plugged into a wall.

You can't house your gecko over vacation periods in a travel carrier unless the travel carrier also has controlled heat and humidity - minimizing the stress on the animal would be your best bet.  I suggest you just bring the cage and all of the equipment, if you're going to be gone more than a few days.  Plus, imagine trying to capture this little gecko to put him into a travel enclosure - he isn't going to want to be caught! lol

Example enclosure: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=21544

Fancier: http://www.frogforum.net/members/kisa-albums-exo-terra-12-x12-x18-picture11645-v

Food should be 1/4" crickets dusted with a quality calcium powder containing vitamin D3.  Flightless fruit flies will also be enjoyed.  Feed every other day.

Keep the enclosure very clean. Wild geckos carry parasites, and reinfection is a risk in a captive environment.  You may choose to have a veterinarian worm the gecko, or just keep things very clean in a large enclosure, to help prevent the buildup of parasites due to reinfection.  (For such a small gecko, administering worming meds can be a little problematic).

If the above all seems like too much expense and maintenance, then I recommend immediately releasing the guy outside, near where he was found.  Normal lifespan for these guys is 5 to 8 years with proper care. (And generally less than one year in substandard conditions).

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Donna Fernstrom

Expertise

My particular focus is on snakes and lizards, but I have a decent smattering of knowledge of turtles and crocodilians as well, plus the experience to get relevant information quickly if I don't have it on hand in my brain. I can answer questions on captive care, diet, breeding, incubation of eggs, starting hatchlings, and more. I am particularly experienced with ball pythons, Lygodactylus geckos and other small lizards with similar care requirements, leopard geckos, and garter snakes.

Experience

I am a professional breeder of ball python morphs, Lygodactylus (dwarf) geckos, and mourning geckos. I have begun working with Irian Jaya carpet pythons, and plan to expand to include more gecko species in the future. I also have a background breeding leopard geckos, and have kept several other species of small lizards, snakes, and a water turtle.

Organizations
Nebraska Herpetological Society (nebherp.org)

Publications
I have many care sheets published on my own website.

Education/Credentials
High School Graduate. Extensively self-taught due to high interest in wildlife and reptile care.

Awards and Honors
Fauna Classifieds board of inquiry Good Guy Certification

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